Blackouts continue despite GPL’s promised improvement

Despite the Guyana Power and Light Company Inc (GPL) promising to have electricity distribution returned to normal two weeks ago, citizens continue to be faced with random spates of blackouts.

At a press conference on August 25, GPL Public Relations Officer Shevion Sears-Murray had explained that the unplanned power outages were due to a generation shortfall that was expected to be rectified by the following day.

Sears-Murray had explained that while the day peak power demand was 109 MW and the night peak demand ranges from 110 MW to 112 MW, there was a generation shortfall because of downed engines. She had pointed out that at that point in time, the total available generation capacity to the Demerara-Berbice Interconnected System (DBIS) was 106 MW, which could not supply the grid with the adequate power for the peak demands and resulted in there being load shedding in random areas to offset the demands.

However, it has been two weeks and citizens are still faced with the almost-daily plight of being without power, for long hours sometimes.

On Tuesday, there was a countrywide shutdown that GPL said was due to a transformer trip, which saw an outage for more than an hour.

Prior to Tuesday, residents were also faced with random blackouts, several days after GPL had promised that the electricity supply would return to normal.

Just a day before GPL held the press conference, the local management company, Power Producers and Distribution Inc. (PPDI) had given members of the media a tour of its Kingston 1, 2 and Vreed-en-Hoop, West Coast Demerara, power plants, and Chief Executive Officer Arron Fraser and Chairman of the Board Mark Bender had emphasised that they are producing enough electricity to supply the grid at peak demand, even though two of their engines were down and undergoing maintenance.

When questioned if the company had experienced any major problems with generation, which might be responsible for the spate of blackouts that citizens have been forced to endure, Fraser said no. “There have not been any major issues with the engines.

I can tell you that our generators are more available this year…,” he said.

Fraser explained that while they have generated only 375,285 MWh from the start of the year, as compared to 381,347 MWh in 2016, the availability of the engines have increased from 92% last year to 93.4% this year.

Despite the company’s annual maintenance, which has seen sections of the country being without power for more than six hours at different intervals, the problem continues to persist, without any indication of positive change.

Questions have been raised about whether the scheduled maintenance had any positive effect on the company’s infrastructure, since some say that the frequency of blackouts has increased since the general works.

Stabroek News tried to contact Sears-Murray but could not reach her for a comment.

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